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How much time do I need in Alaska

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Buddina, Australia
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How much time do I need in Alaska

We are coming to Alaska to do a one way cruise and I want to see as much of Alaska as possible. Should I fly into Fairbanks first, spend a week there then catch train to Denali for a few days ,then train it to Anchorage for a week or so. Thought I might hire a car in both Fairbanks (3days) & Anchorage (5days). Our cruise leaves on 17th Sept for Vancouner. I thought I should leave Australia about 26th August. Has anyone got any suggestions. Cheers Lynn Sp

Anchorage, Alaska
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1. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

The answer is yes!

Well actually.... welcome to TA and I believe you can spend as much time in AK as you want. Depending upon many circumstances; budget, time available, interests the amount of time can really change drastically.

I think by anybody's account you should do at least a few days before your trip and then you could at least visit Denali. Don't forget to take note of how big AK is. If you decide on only a few days, you'll want to stick to one area (e.g. Denali or Seward) There are so many things to do in AK, you could easily do 2, 3 or 4 weeks there.

Buddina, Australia
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2. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

Thanks for the reply. Should I spend less than a week in Fairbanks and have more time in Anchorage. I would like to see as much of the natural beauty as possible. I want to do the back country tour in Denali. That is why I think I will spend 3 days there. This is one of my bucket list things. cheers

haines, alaska
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3. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

I wouldn't spend more than a night in either city........Alaska is all about the great outdoors and wild expanses of majestic scenery.....Fairbanks and Anchorage are just large cities like you would see anywhere, get out into the small towns, hike the trails, kayak the bays, raft the rivers, take glacier, whale or bear watching tours, meet local characters in small towns and all the other things on your bucket list.......don't expect to use Anchorage or Fairbanks as a home base for day trips......for example, if you are going to Seward or Homer, plan on spending a couple nights actually there, it's just too far to drive from Anchorage as a day trip.......

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

I agree with the other posters- yes, you can plan to spend a good chunk of time prior to your cruise and staying in the cities isn't the best way to experience all that Alaska can offer you.

It is usually cheaper to fly into Anchorage and rent a car there - book that asap, as the rates can be astronomical in the summer. I would be hesitant to train everywhere - it is expensive and just not as flexible as a car would be. If you can tell us who all is coming, ages, activities you enjoy, etc., and exactly how many days you have, we have a few people in the forum very gifted with itineraries that can help you. Not me though I would be happy to help you with some of your trip, I am just not good with itineraries! :)

fti
MN
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5. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

You say "I" but then you say "our" cruise. Who is going? If children, ages of the kids?

I agree with mombear - the cities are OK but the gems of Alaska are away from the cities. It does not work well to "base" yourself in one place either then take day trips - the distances are just too vast. So maybe 2 nights in Fairbanks, get over jet lag, see some things, shop for Denali, then the train to Denali. You need a minimum of two nights here. If you like wildlife viewing, hiking or scenery, you might plan three nights here. Three nights at Denali means you get to take a shuttle bus into the park two different days. Note the shuttle bus is preferred to the tour bus (1/3 of the cost, goes further and you can get off at will if desired to hike or just walk along the road).

With the train, you are limited in where you can stay (check the Top Questions in the Denali NP forum for a question about lodging that has transportation to the park).

Once in Anchorage, you could spend a night or two here and take a trip to the Matsu Valley (Matanuska Glacier, Palmer, Independence Mine, Iditarod Sleddog HQ, etc).

Do you know where your ship will be departing from? Seward or Whittier? Seward has a lot to offer and so spending at least a night there is worthwhile. If you depart from Whittier, best is to arrive in Whittier late morning the day your cruise departs, take a Prince William Sound tour then board your ship.

Note that cruises that late in the season generally have weather issues to contend with. Plus, it starts getting pretty dark pretty early that time of year, so keep that in mind. Those issues are one reason cruises that late in September are cheaper than other dates.

Manitoba, Canada
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6. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

A week does seem like a long time to spend in Fairbanks, unless that includes driving to Denali (only 2 hrs away) for a few days.

But we can't really tell you how long to spend in each area until we know your interests. And some things will be closing down in September, so if you want to include those, you'd have to do them first. So are you interested in hiking, kayaking, bear-viewing, flightseeing, walking on a glacier, marine or land wildlife, museums, goldpanning, etc?

Do you like long scenic drives? With about 3 weeks, I'd suggest renting a car in Anchorage for the whole trip. It's handy to have a car in Denali, and then you could do the scenic loop to Fairbanks including both Richardson and Parks Hwys.

BTW, who is "we"? Any kids (if so, what ages)?

Buddina, Australia
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7. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

Thanks for all the reply, It is Me and Hubby we are in our 60's and like going on walks not over night hikes, We would like to see the wild life, native attractions,glaciers, small towns and the country side, some museums, if weather permits do some kayaking.

Our cruise leaves from Whitter. I decided to go in September to miss the school holidays and all the crowds. Yes I have noticed that some thigs stop in mid Sept that is why I decided to do Fairbanks area first.

If we flew into Anchorage first and the hired a car how far is it to Fairbanks and is there more than one way. Meaning can we go up one way and back another

I really appricate all the advice.

I saw a car hire called Dollar hire, it is much cheaper, but is it ok. cheers & thanks.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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8. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

I would spend only a couple of days in Fairbanks as has been said. While here (getting over jet lag) take the Riverboat Discovery Tour, go pan for gold, and check out the Museum of the North.

Buddina, Australia
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9. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

Thanks, they were 3 things I read about and was interested in, I also read about the Running Reindeer Ranch. That sounds good too.

Estero, Florida
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10. Re: How much time do I need in Alaska

Fly into Anchorage, overnight first night there, get car in the am, drive to Denali (3 - 4 hours) for 3 nights with 2 days bus trips into park and maybe a jet boat ride or flightsee in Talkeetna, drive up to Fairbanks(4 - 5 hours) for 2 nights, drive Fairbanks to Anchorage (7 - 9 hours) for 1 night pit stop, drive Anchorage down to Seward for 2 nights to do a wildlife/glacier cruise, visit sea life center and some light hiking and plenty of scenery along the route. Seward back to Whittier (if dropping the car there isn't too expensive, not sure about this). I would try and do a flight out to see bears fishing somewhere if it isn't a budget buster. It is a bucket list kind of thing. Looks like Lake Clark is it that time of year. You could easily add another 3 - 4 days and drive from Fairbanks to Valdez along the Richardson highway and then either drive the Glen back to Anchorage or take a ferry to Whittier and drive to Seward

www.flyrusts.com/alaska-bear-viewing.html